Lundy lawyer paying own way

Mark Lundy's lawyer has to pay for flights back to New Zealand out of his own pocket despite the Crown spending more than $40,000 fighting his appeal in London.

The Attorney-General denied legal aid funding for David Hislop QC and Malcolm Birdling to prepare for the Privy Council hearing to appeal against Lundy's convictions for murdering his wife Christine and daughter Amber.

His convictions were quashed by the Law Lords and Mr Hislop, based in London, now plans to return to New Zealand to represent Lundy at a re-trial scheduled to be held in Wellington in June.

But he will have to pay for the return flights himself, despite legal aid being approved for the second trial, which could last up to eight weeks.

Figures released to the Herald show the Crown Law Office spent $33,703 on return flights for three lawyers arguing to uphold Lundy's convictions at the Privy Council hearing last June, while accommodation for the three day hearing in London cost another $8247.

Ross Burns, until recently a senior Crown prosecutor in Auckland, has joined the Lundy defence team and confirmed Mr Hislop would pay his own way from the United Kingdom.

"We've been granted legal aid but that won't cover his fares to come back. I think the reason for that is he's not a New Zealand-based lawyer, so I can understand why that hasn't been funded," said Mr Burns.

"So he's had to cough up a bit out of his own pocket."

While taxpayer-funded legal aid was declined by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson QC for the Privy Council appeal, funding is approved for the double murder retrial. This was at the standard rate of $159 an hour for Mr Hislop, Mr Burns, Dr Birdling - who was staying in the United Kingdom - as well as Julie Anne Kincaid, another former Crown prosecutor in Auckland.

Mr Burns said the defence team had to present the Justice Ministry with a "case plan" to get pre-approval for time spent on preparation for the trial and other court appearances.

Flights from Auckland to Wellington for court hearings were also paid for, as well as an accommodation allowance.

The legal aid bill for Lundy's first trial was around $145,000.

A spokesman for Mr Finlayson confirmed legal aid funding for the Privy Council was refused on the basis of a legal opinion of Philip Morgan QC, who is now leading the Crown case against Lundy.

- Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ and Jared Savage of the New Zealand Herald

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